Qld urged to remember indigenous soldiers on Anzac Day

INDIGENOUS Australians could not vote or buy property but they were among those who died to protect Australian and Commonwealth interests.

Those who did return from war were often shunned and scorned despite the duty they performed, not allowed even to have a beer alongside other returned diggers on Anzac Day for many years.

But while they were fighting in battlefields around the world, many were treated as equals for the first time in their lives.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Minister Glen Elmes encouraged Queenslanders to remember the sacrifices indigenous service personnel had made since the Boer War during Thursday's Anzac commemorations.

"It's amazing these young men even joined up," Mr Elmes said.

"They were not classed as citizens, had no right to vote, could not buy property or enter a public bar.

"They became soldiers, sailors and airmen, fighting and dying alongside other Australians on battlefields across the world and being awarded decorations for valour, including the Distinguished Conduct Medal - second in significance only to the Victoria Cross.

"Many of them were treated as equals for the first time in their lives as soldiers, but upon returning to civilian life after conflict they experienced the same discrimination and prejudice as before going into uniform."

Mr Elmes said it was impossible to pin down the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had served over the past 115 years because many chose not to record their cultural background.

But he said it was estimated more than 400 were involved in the First World War, increasing to possibly thousands in the Second World War, Vietnam and subsequent conflicts.



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